Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, February 29, 2008

State of OA in folklore studies, part 3

Jason Baird Jackson, Open Access Folkloristics (Part 3 of 3), Open Access Anthropology, February 28, 2008. Part 3 of the review of the field: see part 1 and part 2.

... While sharing a great deal of common ground and common history, folklore studies and anthropology pose a contrast relative to OA publishing. In anthropology there is significant activism relative to OA and clear sense of a debate about the future to be engaged in. Developments in the American Anthropological Association’s publications program (discussed on Savage Minds and in the pages of higher education periodicals) have been a catalyst for these conversations. By contrast, far fewer folklorists are aware of such debates yet, because of the social organization and political economy of their field, OA is much less of a major transformation in the means of doing business for folklore studies. Barriers to achieving OA are much lower, but the longer term values that OA connects up with are also central to many folklorists sense of purpose.

This is perhaps clearest for the domain known as “public folklore.” Many U.S. folklorists work in the public sector, outside academia. Public folklore work centers on community-based culture work, including activities such as documenting the creative lives of traditional artists, developing public programs (festivals, exhibitions, concerts, presentations, demonstrations, etc.), and implementing public grant and curriculum initiatives. Public folklore programs, which are generally not-for-profits or part of state or local governments, have long sought the most cost effective means available by which to bring their research–both as documentation and as curated products–to the attention of various stakeholders, including students, source communities, policy makers and the general public. This goal has roots in the long term values of folklore studies in general, but it is also a very practical strategy at several levels, from the contingencies of project management through to the politics of program funding. The principles of open access, and even of open data, whether recognized as such or not, seem like second nature to many folklorists. ...